tv Book Discussion on 67 Shots CSPAN August 18, 2016 2:46am-3:48am EDT
they were camped on the green river they were from the west and the east so it's sor that'sf the worst of the last. they were having breakfast that morning and he ran out and started taking photographs the cloud kept coming closer. the photographs of the volcano never capture some of the things that the eyewitnesses say that baseball and for instance the colors of the clouds were filled with green and yellow and churning like an egg beater.
it was the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen. so they took shelter nearby and said that the thunder was so loud and continuous they couldn't even hear each other speak. so finally he began to run up and they all began to make their way up the river. the trees are going across the trail. it had fallen across the pathway and they realized they would have to get across the for us to get back to their car. so very late in the day they knew they were never going to be
able to get to the car. they actually slipped a ball that night and when they woke up the next morning they were not feeling bad. so they started making their way back and heard a helicopter overhead and saw what she was wearing and the helicopter decided that they were the last people to be rescued from around mount saint helens but he didn't land in the trees because there was no place for them to land. they brought a small helicopter and it hovered over an island and the helicopter put a single one on the island and the pilot
was very concerned about the helicopter getting overloaded. you can't bring a backpack along. she said there's a baby in it. so he says okay keep the baby. [laughter] succumb at the beginning of the talk i said of the people killed in the eruption of mount saint helens, three of them were outside of the zone and i think of them as the danger zone that was much too close. a tycoon moved next door from st. paul in the last decade of the century [inaudible] so what do we learn from mount
saint helens today there were three lessons but i draw. first we have to take it seriously. we are not that good at predicting now exactly when it volcano is going to iraq so the issue advisories and watches and the warnings can be expensive for the people and businesses and other people that live in the northwest. we have to engage in this and be prepared when that happens. the second lesson the safety officials learned a lot. the technology makes it much easier to monitor and know what it's going to do.
there have been plenty of volcanic since then. the volcano observatory in washington, the scientists there not only of mount saint helens but they have the potential to erupt. it's really quite interesting to read. the third lesson we have to get ready. and earthquakes we can have and the tsunamis and people elsewhere face plenty of hazards in the 35 years i lived in
washington, d.c. before i moved to seattle and even a small tornado they tend to react to the discussions. they are preparing and the better off w we prepared today e better off we are going to be. that's why they decided to write this book when i moved out of their. it's always going to be part of history and it has a lot to teach us about living in one of the most beautiful parts of the
-- [inaudible] this question about why in the book i don't describe what happens exactly i thought that there would be a little overwhelming actually that would be too many. so i wanted to do is describe the people in the area north of the volcano because essentially all those people in that part. by describing the experiences we got a little sense of the experience elsewhere in the volcano. i will describe what happened to some of the other people to try to get those.
they were amazing. they lost navigation on the columbia river which was about 60 miles from mount saint helens. so huge amount amount of debrise down these rivers with the navigation room and the fishing for a few years and the big shifts are probably stuck for a couple of months before they were able to make their way out into the channel could be dredged through the columbia. even after the eruption dealt across the main river that comes off they are still dealing with this issue today. [inaudible]
>> hell did you have the courage to write another book >> one of the things i had to decide because there have been plenty of other books, part of my job was to read the books and talk to everybody that i possibly could so i could sell the story as comprehensively as i could. but in the course of doing that research became across information that hadn't been availablhaven't beenavailable b. for instance after the eruption, the warehouse company and the state were sued by the families of the victim and that case went tthe case wentto trial in 1984 n state. all the records were still on file in the courthouse and no one had ever seen those before. those records enabled me to fill in a lot of the gaps.
everything i tried to do is tell the whole story. i try to go back to the beginning and look at what happened to people. >> [inaudible] >> these were government agencies that put these togeth together. part of the reason for the trial was the belief that there had been a deal to set them where they were. what i say in this book is between george warehouse or into
the governor in washington state thedata center to talk directly. weyerhaeuser was such a powerful economic interests in washington state at that time that the government officials drawing the line were an inconvenience and that was ultimately the root cause of the tragedy that happened. there was a proposal to expand the danger zone at washington state when the volcano erupted. she had been away on saturday. the extension would have been much more difficult to get that never happened [inaudible]
>> a lot of people do worry about it. even before people had realized we live in communities that occur and especially after the eruption of mount saint helens that was the case that had been taken to protect people that are in those hazardous areas. you will see signs that look like tsunami signs. the same is going to happen. they're making their way down the river valley it took about
ten or 15 minutes to escape which is the same situation as the tsunami on the coast. so people are aware of it but it is a hazard and there are complications to happen it's not going to be an easy thing for people to do. [inaudible] >> people will have a warning before it's fair but as i said it's one of the hazards people have to take seriously. there's all kinds of conversations. in case something like that did happen. >> even in the northwest there
had been those bigger than mount saint helens. [inaudible] as much as mount saint helens that would be a tremendous disaster all over the western united states depending on which direction. yellowstone doesn't look like it is going to have a major eruption anytime soon but when it did happen in the past it could devastate the entire eastern half of the united states. it occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago and there is no sign it's about to do it but there have been major volcanic eruptions in the past, and there will continue to be in the future if enacted in the past several years so it is a matter of time before it erupts again. >> for the current situation,
it's run by the service and identified by other agencies. it's an interesting phenomenon. what are the lessons learned from this in the land management if it were to happen? >> one thing i don't talk about in this book, the mount saint helens national monument exists today there was a group that was working before it started for recreational purposes because this was a working forest and so they were trying to have this area declared a wilderness area. what happened with the eruption is very stable area they were trying to protect that was devastating so they had to change their strategy because the area that they wanted.
what they decided to do instead, scientists at that point had a sort of experiment they worked with the association and groups that were interested in setting aside this area for the studies and that did lead the creation e creation of the national volcanic area today so that has been protected. when you visit the monument today you can still see that area has been satisfied. it's true that there are still major threats in that area. there is a company that wants to mine on the river actually and they are allowed to do so. there are people still fighting these battles.
they use it as a tree farm essentially. >> [inaudible] >> this is a question about the process of how the land comes back from this kind of devastation. what they found out is that the cost is much more random than you would think. it depends on the time of year and what animals having to be around. then they start to form a little area and it becomes an area of yours can go as well.
one interesting feature of it is the area around mount saint helens now is a bayou daters area if you just let the national processes occur that are entered into those areas as they started coming back. when you go to mount saint helens, it's incredibly devastating area and get its returning quickly. it won't for another couple years unless the full keynote erupts again. it's a wonderful place to visit and i would recommend everybody take a look at it. >> would we be worried [inaudible] >> it's maybe not a bad idea to check on things but the thing
about it is they do issue warnings. mount saint helens was active for two months before. [inaudible] two more questions. >> [inaudible] i would have assumed other than the national park -- >> they are defined but they do exist for instance if you ever go to mount saint helens you will come across. a severe instrumental helping set aside the national volcanic
the landscape in that area and is actually they see this all over the world you can go to other areas that look similar and further more mount saint helens has done this in the past and it's going to do it in the future. it's just a matter of time until they erupt. thanks, everybody. [applause] [inaudible] if you could do us a favor and fill uperican presidents
administrative notes and turn off your cell phones and anything that might make a noise during tight presentation. when we get to the q-and-a part of the session. it's especially important if you have a question you make your way to the microphone so that the question gets heard on the tape and in the rest of the room. at the end before you come up to have your book signed, the staff would appreciate if you would fold up the chairs that you are seated in and leaned them against something. welcome jacob. he spoke here about eight years ago for his book the bush tragedy about the administration of george w. bush. and he credits with helping to
push the buck to the bestseller status. we will see what we can do for the new book about ronald reagan called appropriately ronald reagan. this book is part of the american presidential series of concise biographies written by some quite accomplished authors and published by times book. until nine years ago if he edited the series and the point of the project was to produce volumes that were compact enough for the busy reader, lucid enough for the student, authoritative enough for the scholar. his work certainly fits that mold. he's managed in a 154 pages of text not only to capture the extraordinary life but also to
weigh in on several issues of particular significance among them the role that he played in ending the cold war and the seemingly impenetrablthusseeminf ronald reagan's mind. jake brought to the task a long career in journalism that includes "newsweek" and the new republic, pieces for the magazine, the financial times and "vanity fair" and editor and now chair man of the group. now it's true the political leanings towards the liberal and conservative, but that didn't keep him from approaching the subject with an open mind and writing it in an admirable fair portrait of a complex political figure. he calls him the second-most important presidensecond mostimh century after fdr and shows that there was much more than the usual stereotypes promoted by
both democrats. please welcome jacob weissmann. [applause] >> thank you for the kind introduction. i love this not only because it helped my last book back on thee best sellers list but they've done an amazing job with it. it's one of the best independent bookstores in the country. you are lucky to have it here and i'm lucky to be speaking here tonight. this book is a short book i consider that a virtue of the biographies are often considered as long as possible. i had to take the opposite approach. this is a distillation to figure out what is essential in the story but also to take on some
of these myths. i think that it's a myth that he was always a man of principle and didn't bend or negotiate. he was more of a pragmatist and improvisers and people if he were to hear the version of him represented in t and say the republican presidential made the reality very different. and i thought i would talk tonight a little bit about some of the things that i thought were interesting but i learned doing this book and parts of the that's maybe people didn't pay quite as much attention that are interesting and important. the first thing i want to talk about a little bit is his childhood. he wrote about his childhood the first place in any detail and autobiography in 1964 a book
called where is the rest of me that he wrote when he was moving from his career in hollywood to the governor of california. he wanted to explain why he moved from the left to the right and he in the process told his life story and he talks about growing up in the small towns in downstate and western illinois and he paints this idea with picture. he calls it a tom sawyer idol. he didn't necessarily get the side of huck finn but he described being out in the woods in this beautiful prairie setting and the river freeze over in the winter and to put on ice skates and you can hold your coat up and the wind would carry you down. he describes a small-town community and he loved
everything about it. we didn't have a lot of money but we had a warm family life. my mother would make this delicious thing called oatmeal meat which is basically oatmeal and meat. [laughter] anyway, a happy childhood. then you hear about his brother recounting the same event. he says dad was a terrible alcoholic. by the time ronald reagan was 10-years-old we lived in different houses. they went to chicago at one point where his dad got a job and got arrested for public drunkenness and they had to leave chicago. they were kind of being driven from pillar to post because of his father's alcoholism. oatmeal meat was a saying that i never want to taste again. it's something you eat if you can't afford everything else, oatmeal and eat and maybe put some salt, it keeps you barely alive. they would go to the church and
state you have any liver, it wasn't something considered a great food to eat them. if you have any left for the cat they would take that home and make dinner out of it. so a different perspective on how they grew up, he told these anecdotes again and again and again. one of his favorite stories between sure you all heard is about the parents who take their sons to the psychiatrist because the on is such an optimist and the other is such a pessimist. the psychiatrist takes the optimistic, the pessimistic son into a room filled with toys and he says it's going to break anyway. and he'd take the optimistic son into a room filled and the kid gets out a shovel and start digging.
one was an optimist and the other was a pessimist. the other is just congenital. it's the view of the world and that is true to some extent. by nature he was an optimist and he had to figure out how to preserve that optimism. his family left town and never ended up splitting up they got back together. but this was a tough poor childhood. they didn't have enough to keep body and soul together. but i think ronal ronald reagan, and this is a little bit of a psychological theory that explains some of his behavior, but to be on optimist, having this kind of life he learned to tune things out and do not see e
things that were unpleasant to him that made it hard to maintain that he was having a happy childhood, not to hear certain things. he didn't have a lot of friends because he was being dragged from place to place. he made that that's a positive. he loved being alone. but this thing about not hearing things he didn't want to hear and not seeing things he didn't want to see but also physiological. when he was 13-years-old, he loved playing football. he wanted to play baseball but basically he couldn't see the ball. he tried on his mother's glasses and said it's all clear now. so he was in his fall before his childhood and a maverick he hated wearing his glasses.
people always said he's a hollywood actor, he's wearing his glasses. no, he just kind of preferred things a little blurry. and likewise with his hearing when he was on some of the first movies he made in hollywood, when he got there in the late 1930s were the movies he played his hero but fbi agent breaks up smuggling rings and counterfeiters and one of them somebody fired a gun next to his ear and left him deaf in one ear. i don't know if his hearing was that good before that. all his problems got worse over time to be at his eyesight got worse, but i also think that this was really functional behavior. through his life when there were things he chose not to deal with because they were unhappy or unpleasant or involved conflict or in politics involved contradictions that he didn't
want to deal with, he had this way of tuning it out and letting it be someone else's problem, letting it be someone else's issue. you would see this with family life, his daughter patti had a very difficult relationship with her mother. ronald reagan just didn't want to deal with that. he would've tuned out and it wasn't that different from what happened in 1981 when david stockman comes to him and says you can have the defense buildup and the tax cuts or you can get rid of the deficit but you can't do all three because the numbers don't add up. and he describes this frustration not getting ronald reagan to be able to understand. i don't think he didn't understand it but he didn't have a solution to it and the path of least resistance was to allow it to grow and to not fully engage in the problems.
he learned for his political career that tuning it out was functional behavior and an effective political technique for him. when people would see the way he would distance himself and not engage in t and tune out they wd think he's clueless, he's out of it. but at some point, the alzheimer's kicks in. there's been an interesting debate since he first acknowledged he had it several years after leaving the white house when he wrote this kind of moving letter about when it started to happen. there is a fight going on right now about bill o'reilly and george will about it. they've labeled ronald reagan by saying that it was affecting him
earlier in his presidency. in fact i looked at the books he was interested in and he doesn't say what he accuses of him saying which sort of kick starts his alzheimer's. it has a big effect on how much everybody said it did but he was dressed slower hearing and the recognition but i think that suggests that alzheimer's really started to affect him in 1986 around the time of the contract went he was unable to remember what happened. i think by that point it was actual. it was a question of what did he know and when did he know it became a sort of conundrum because he didn't know what he
knew at that point. and with alzheimer it's still a relatively early stage. he had good days and bad days and days when you could see him and think he is really out of it and he would be the same person he was before and it wasn't affecting him at all. i find almost a poetry in the ip sort of drifted away into this fogginess that he created himself. another aspect of the career that his understudy does the period in the 1950s when he moved from the left or right. to helhow grew up in, reagan revered fdr even after he moved to the right and he was a liberal democrat.
liberal anti-communist. he campaigned for truman and voted for truman in 1952. in 1954, he would still come he asked what his views were and he was a liberal democrat. eight years later come he is so conservative that general electric said we can't have this guy around. he's embarrassing us. and he has adopted this view that liberalism was a shortstop and there was a continuum between democratic and communism and we were sliding down that slippery slope. part of it came out of the road to serfdom but what happened in those eight years that is a huge gap from the goldwater conservative and it's almost a
blank period in his life because everything before that is a hollywood career which is incredible and well-documented in the way that a hollywood star's life is documented. he's covered as a celebrity and the pictures are everywhere. everything he wrote was in celebrity magazines. once he went into politics everything is documented. but he did during the years as he went to work for genital electric. he was the host of the theater which was a weekly television show where they would have one week of drama and comedy and one of the television shows that got famous film actors to appear on television and he hosted it and introduced it and some days he acted in it.
he also was a kind of traveling spokesman for general electric. as a huge company to get factories all over the country making different kind of appliances, giant turbines. a ronald reagan would go around to all of the factories and facilities and speak to all the workers and he was there partly as a celebrity but also he was kind of representing ge management and view of the world and when you start to look at what the view of the world was at that point, it's an amazing match for what he ended up thinking by the latter part of the period so very opposed to the government regulation and why is the government interfering in our business,
very opposed to the taxation and higher taxes. what is the government doing to support the business climate and he starts using this term talking about the climate ahead of the public affairs that claimed the phrase business climate which now everybody uses all the time. his view of the world was this corporate view that was specifically ge and they wanted to propounded to the workers. i don't think that he took this on cynically or he thought that he was being a propagandist for ge. i think part of the reading he was getting was coming for general electric he was reading the literature from the movement at that time he was a charter subscriber to william f. buckley and national review.
he read whittaker chambers witness which was an incredibly influential book on the right. and i think that these books having all this connection influenced him and he sort of has the view that government can do no good and business can do no ill. it was a blind spot you could say he was sort of incapable for believing the government can be effective outside of national defense and a few other functions. he never thinks the business does anything wrong. that isn't part of his vocabulary to think the business could be abusive or coercive or monopolistic. monopolistic. he is always defending the prerogatives of this big business. it is really hard to tap that
out. i went to the library and the file on this as like 30 pages in it. there is not a single surviving copy of the speech were recording that anybody has found that many of these hundreds if not thousands of jews he gave on the factory floors and ge facilities. there are some correspondence and bits and pieces but it's almost like detective work to put together this gap in the career that is central to everything but his view forms the core of the modern conservative movement and its this question of where it all came from and ends up being pretty important. maybe as the last bit and then we can open up for questions. talk about the role in the end
and the collapse of communism which is contest and interesting ground when i went to the reagan library the best thing i did was after i'd been there a few days they said they don't have that many visitors they are in the presidential libraries. they had a lot of staff that were super helpful. would you like to see the stuff at his desk and i said sure, what's that. they boxed up all the stuff and you could request permission to look at what he had. it turned out that this was stuff that wasn't clear which time it was in that it's the stuff that was in his desk and home in the palisades that he took with him to the governor's mansion in sacramento and then ultimately took the white house and had it at his desk and when he left it was put in boxes and it was like old diaries and the
stuff that you have that stays in your desk. so there is a kind of poignant iconic quality. one of the things he held onto and there's a few speeches. some of them you've heard before but some of them were speeches he kept in his desk. one thing he is pretending 19th t-2 which had never been published as a kind of essay that he'd written. he wrote a lot probably every day of his life and he was a good writer. he wrote as someone who developed his early career on radio. he was always writing these essays. in 1962, he says it's possible that communism will take over
but it's more likely that communism will just collapse. he said it isn't even a political or economic system it is just insanity. he said it's a violation of human nature. it doesn't make any sense. it's an interesting view people don't think about that. it was sort of applying his common sense perspective on anything. it doesn't make sense for people to live like that. nobody would tolerate it. he had this idea but he held onto and it was repeated in various worms when he starts to these interesting radio commentaries in the 1970s which was a place that he
developed his political ideas between his losing campaign for president in 1976 when he challenged gerald ford and the winning campaign in 1980. that view matched up with some others that he had. you find also readinthe find ale commentaries he hated nuclear weapons. he had been a pacifist partly the early involvement in the theater he had all these plays. there was this place that was a play about the first world war, british play that's kind of a pacifist play into these young men die pointlessly. it's a huge impact. what have a huge impact on him is when he was in the second world war making training films.
the early films of the liberation of auschwitz there was a myth that he claimed he never said anything like that. how could you believe if you didn't actually know the story. but he did see in 1945 films of the piles of corpses and his father tried to make them watch this years later. you have to understand this about humanity. there was another thing that influenced this idea that he had that nuclear war would be totally horrifying and unacceptable. and he fought especially after he became president in the assassination attempt that his mission was to reduce the threat
of nuclear weapons. and, you know, the conventional view, the conservative view is that you have the strategy of peace through strength and came into office with the big military buildup to make the soviet union forced to collapse and surrender. i don't think that is what happened if you look at the record. in the reagan library you can find these hand written letters he wrote to every soviet leader when he was president. starting with russia and finally gorbachev. these letters were touching. you and i have the power to destroy the world but also the power to save the world and big piece. we have to communicate and talk to each other.
didn't continue that strategy, he turned around completely. second term in relation to the soviets is more like a repudiation of the first term. an acknowledgment that that what he tried during the first term did not work. he did not scare them to the bargaining table. at that point reagan becomes a radical disarmament. more more radical than almost anybody on the left. he keeps saying in meetings, why can't we abolish all nuclear weapons, and of courses is tied up with something of a fantasy about*worse. he thinks star wars. he thinks he can replace nuclear weapon with the nuclear shield. be that as it made he wanted to get rid of them. he is constantly at these meetings trying to make them more radical proposal to get rid of him. at that point he is really a odds with almost everybody in his own administration. all of the foreign policy people around saying this is a crazy idea.
they think he lost his marbles on this doesn't make make sense. one person supported him. george schultz. he had secretary of state said look, this this is what the president wants, think is right, we have to figure out if they negotiated agreement like this. they came close close to doing it. until reagan walked out over gorbachev not being willing to accept the star wars research you want to. if they had agreed to the we have to be prepared to implement it. i think the picture of reagan that emerges from the second term as it goes back to the early roots, his early pacifism, his whole history he had been an opponent of nuclear weapon. there is a lot of relationship to the story that we have been told. it is not exactly the same story. i thank you see in the second term very different president. that you see in the first time. not because he has gone soft in the head, but because he is activated and the really at odds with what he is known for previously.
maybe i'll stop there. that has made a lot of food for thought i hope. thank you. [applause]. and please come to the microphone if you have any questions. >> i really enjoyed that very much. i thought it was great balance for the whole life and certainly raised a lot of questions in my mind. but most of those who sort of at least partly answered already. the one that i am not clear on is sort of his entrance into politics are his personal interest in getting into politics. coming from a family of somewhat dysfunctional i guess but i guess a family not of great
means or anything. as for as i can can tell his father was not involved in politics. or his mother. so just when did he get the idea that he could take part in that as opposed to having ideas about having political ideas? >> the other part of it i guess i'll throw it in because i have the opportunity to do so. you mention that his general electric years ended in a situation where ge felt he was too far to the right. i always thought of ge as having lured him to the right, that he was born of the left and still of the left when ge made some sort of overture to him to take part in their ge our, or whatever. that he was very, very pleased
with that and kind of lured into more, at least thinking along the lines of corporate america. >> how did he move so quickly -- mostly how did he get into politics? >> great question. i think ge did not want to be perceived as having a political publicly. when it got too far out it was a problem. there's. there's an excerpt from the book which we ran today which includes the interesting issue about ge firing him as to why they fired him. i have have a theory about that too. i think it evolved this antitrust case that have been brought in ge executive actually went to jail and a case right around them. at at the same time reagan was being investigated in an antitrust case around his
screen actors guild. he had been called to testify beyond the grand jury which not many people know about at the time. i think it was the risk of embarrassment on that issue. reagan had his own myth about what he thought the ge fired him because he was too conservative. i think the evidence suggests that there is evidence why she got rid of them. ] got into politics, during the depression both his father and his brother got jobs working for the new deal, wpa type jobs. there was a political awareness in the family. he had always enjoyed arguing politics. he was always always interested in politics. lots of discussions about him holding forth in defending fdr. he was famous at the radio station where he worked in davenport, iowa for doing this great fdr imitation. when he got to hollywood he was a hollywood politician.
he sought out election and the screen actors guild. he became a figure in the blacklist that's complicated and we did not talk about. part of it is i think i think he enjoyed politics and was always interested in it. the other side is that reagan had a pretty good self-awareness about certain things. he knew he was not a great actor. he thought, he knew what his strengths were as an actor. he was reliable, he was on time, there is no monkey business from him. but he knew he was limited in his range. he could only do certain parts. always frustrated with the parts he was getting. i think at a fairly early stage after the second world war, his crew crew never really got going again. so i think at that point he started to think about what else he could do. he'd been approached to run for congress as a democrat a couple of times in the 1940s. he had passed it up but i think
he had his eye on that from an early stage. >> i would like to echo what was said thanking you for and questioning some of the misunderstandings. some of the questions if i could do a double one. procedurally, how long did it take you to research and write the book, the second one is, okay reagan has this big idea about things like communism in business, does he think much about how the government works, how it might work? was he kind of detachment? >> will on the practicalities writing the book it depends on how you measure it. i've been in some ways thinking about reagan my whole life. i was trying to promote my book on facebook and some of my high school friends were responding. one reminded me